In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (22)

Articles by Vitaliy Pipich in JoVE

 JoVE Bioengineering

Studying Soft-matter and Biological Systems over a Wide Length-scale from Nanometer and Micrometer Sizes at the Small-angle Neutron Diffractometer KWS-2

1Jülich Centre for Neutron Science Outstation at MLZ, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, 2Department of Chemistry, Louisiana State University, 3Jülich Centre for Neutron Science JCNS-1 & Institute of Complex Systems ICS-1, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, 4Central Institute of Engineering, Electronics and Analytics — Electronic Systems (ZEA-2), Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, 5Central Institute of Engineering, Electronics and Analytics — Engineering and Technology (ZEA-1), Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH

JoVE 54639

Other articles by Vitaliy Pipich on PubMed

Ginzburg Number of a Homopolymer-diblock Copolymer Mixture Covering the 3D-Ising, Isotropic Lifshitz, and Brasovskii Classes of Critical Universality

Physical Review Letters. Mar, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 15903889

The Ginzburg number Gi of deuterated poly(butadiene) (dPB) and poly(styrene) (PS) homopolymer blend of critical composition mixed with a dPB-PS symmetric diblock copolymer was determined from small angle neutron scattering. A 3 orders of magnitude change of Gi was determined between binary polymer blend and diblock copolymer melt. The strongest change of Gi is observed within the isotropic Lifshitz regime of critical universality occurring over a 3% range of diblock concentration and interpolates the corresponding Gi of the 3D-Ising and Brasovskii regimes. A Lifshitz critical point was not observed consistent with the proposed lower critical dimension d(LCP)=4.

Composition Fluctuations in a Homopolymer-diblock Copolymer Mixture Covering the Three-dimensional Ising, Isotropic Lifshitz, and Brasovskiĭ Classes of Critical Universality

The Journal of Chemical Physics. Sep, 2005  |  Pubmed ID: 16392524

The phase behavior of a three-component polymer blend consisting of a critical mixture of polybutadiene and polystyrene (PB/PS) with varying amount of a symmetric PB-PS diblock copolymer was explored with small-angle neutron scattering. Our focus were thermal composition fluctuations which we discuss in terms of mean field, three-dimensional Ising, isotropic Lifshitz, and Brasovskiĭ classes of critical universality. Particular attention is spent to the observation of a narrow reentrant two-phase regime and double critical point in the Lifshitz critical regime as well as the Lifshitz line. Critical exponents of the isotropic Lifshitz case are proposed in spite of the demonstrated nonexistence of the isotropic Lifshitz critical point. The Ginzburg number (Gi) and Flory-Huggins parameter were determined over the whole diblock concentration range; Gi changes by three orders of magnitude, two orders of magnitude of that change over a 0.03 diblock concentration interval within the isotropic Lifshitz regime.

Shape and Oligomerization State of the Cytoplasmic Domain of the Phototaxis Transducer II from Natronobacterium Pharaonis

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Oct, 2006  |  Pubmed ID: 17032755

Phototaxis allows archaea to adjust flagellar motion in response to light. In the photophobic response of Natronobacterium pharaonis, light-activated sensory rhodopsin II causes conformational changes in the transducer II protein (pHtrII), initiating the two-component signaling system analogous to bacterial chemotaxis. pHtrII's cytoplasmic domain (pHtrII-cyt) is homologous to the cytoplasmic domains of eubacterial chemotaxis receptors. Chemotaxis receptors require dimerization for activity and are in vivo-organized in large clusters. In this study we investigated the oligomerization and aggregation states of pHtrII-cyt by using chemical cross-linking, analytical gel-filtration chromatography, and small-angle neutron scattering. We show that pHtrII-cyt is monomeric in dilute buffers, but forms dimers in 4 M KCl, the physiological salt concentration for halophilic archaea. At high ammonium sulfate concentration, the protein forms higher-order aggregates. The monomeric protein has a rod-like shape, 202 A in length and 14.4 A in diameter; upon dimerization the length increases to 248 A and the diameter to 18.2 A. These results suggest that under high salt concentration the shape and oligomerization state of pHtrII-cyt are comparable to those of chemotaxis receptors.

Self-association of Adenine-dependent Hairpin Ribozymes

European Biophysics Journal : EBJ. Feb, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 17899064

Hairpin ribozymes are flexible molecules that catalyse reversible self-cleavage after the docking of two independently folded internal loops, A and B. The activities, self-association and structures in solution of two 85 base adenine-dependent hairpin ribozymes (ADHR1 and ADHR2) were studied by native gel electrophoresis, analytical centrifugation, and small angle neutron scattering. Bi-molecular RNA interactions such as linear-linear, loop-loop, loop-linear or kissing interactions have been found to be important in the control of various biological functions, and hairpin loops present rich potential for establishing both intra- and intermolecular interactions through standard Watson-Crick base pairing or non-canonical interactions. Similar results were obtained for ADHR1 and ADHR2. At room temperature, they indicated end-to-end self-association of the ribozymes in rod-like structures with a cross-section corresponding to two double strands side-by-side. Dimers, which predominate at low concentration ( approximately 0.1 mg/ml), associate into longer rods, with increasing concentration ( approximately 1 mg/ml). Above 65 degrees C, the dimers and rods dissociated into compact monomers, with a radius of gyration similar to that of tRNA (about 70 bases). The dimers were non-active for catalysis, which suggests that dimer formation, probably by preventing the correct docking of loops A and B, could act as an inhibition mechanism for the regulation of hairpin ribozyme catalysis.

Small-angle Neutron Scattering Characterization of Polyhydroxyalkanoates and Their BioPEGylated Hybrids in Solution

Biomacromolecules. Jan, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18067255

Small-angle neutron scattering was used to probe the molecular conformation of various polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) and their bioPEGylated counterparts (PHA- b-PEG). Analysis of neutron scattering profiles of these polymers dissolved in deuterated chloroform at various concentrations from dilute (approximately 0.1% w/v) to semidilute (approximately 7% w/v) showed the two distinct regimes and established overlap concentrations around 4-9 mg mL(-1). Scattering profiles were similar for all polymers investigated; power laws of approximately Q(-1.66) at high Q demonstrated that chloroform behaves as a good solvent for PHAs and suggests that under conditions synonymous with processing the solvated chains were swollen rather than in Gaussian conformation as previously reported. A gradual change to Guinier knees was followed by slopes of Q(-3) suggesting the presence of supramolecular structures at larger length scales. These observations in both the dilute and semidilute concentrations have not been previously reported. Zimm analysis of the data provided gyration radii and absolute molecular weights consistent with trends established using light scattering but showed some variation in their second virial coefficients. While natural-synthetic hybrids of PHA- b-PEG can self-assemble into microporous films, they showed no noticeable differences in chain conformation when in solution, the fabricating medium. This suggests that some form of entropic inducement is required.

Nucleation and Growth of CaCO3 Mediated by the Egg-white Protein Ovalbumin: a Time-resolved in Situ Study Using Small-angle Neutron Scattering

Journal of the American Chemical Society. May, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 18452291

Mineralization of calcium carbonate in aqueous solutions starting from its initiation was studied by time-resolved small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). SANS revealed that homogeneous crystallization of CaCO 3 involves an initial formation of thin plate-shaped nuclei which subsequently reassemble to 3-dimensional particles, first of fractal and finally of compact structure. The presence of the egg-white protein ovalbumin leads to a different progression of mineralization through several stages; the first step represents amorphous CaCO 3, whereas the other phases are crystalline. The formation and dissolution of the amorphous phase is accompanied by Ca (2+)-mediated unfolding and cross-linking of about 50 protein monomers showing the characteristic scattering of linear chains with a large statistical segment length. The protein complexes act as nucleation centers for the amorphous phase because of their enrichment by Ca (2+) ions. SANS revealed the sequential formation of CaCO 3 starting from the amorphous phase and the subsequent formation of the crystalline polymorphs vaterite and aragonite. This formation from less dense to more dense polymorphs follows the Ostwald-Volmer rule.

The A-B Diblock Copolymer As a Nonordering External Field in a Three-component A/B/A-B Polymer Blend

The Journal of Physical Chemistry. B. Dec, 2008  |  Pubmed ID: 19367997

Thermal copolymer fluctuations were explored in a three-component blend consisting of a critical (A/B) homopolymer blend and a symmetric A-B diblock copolymer using the technique of neutron small angle scattering. The copolymer has the function of an external nonordering field and thereby determines phase behavior as well as the regimes of 3d-Ising, isotropic Lifshitz, and Brasovskiî critical universality. It was found that the random phase approximation (RPA) does not correctly describe the copolymer structure function because of strong thermal fluctuations. On the other hand a weak coupling of copolymer and homopolymer was confirmed, consistent with predictions from RPA. Self-assembly of the copolymers was observed prior to the ordering of the "total" blend, e.g. inclusive of the homopolymers, into bicontinuous and lamellar ordered phases.

Congruency Between Biophysical Data from Multiple Platforms and Molecular Dynamics Simulation of the Double-super Helix Model of Nascent High-density Lipoprotein

Biochemistry. Aug, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 20687589

The predicted structure and molecular trajectories from >80 ns molecular dynamics simulation of the solvated Double-Super Helix (DSH) model of nascent high-density lipoprotein (HDL) were determined and compared with experimental data on reconstituted nascent HDL obtained from multiple biophysical platforms, including small angle neutron scattering (SANS) with contrast variation, hydrogen-deuterium exchange tandem mass spectrometry (H/D-MS/MS), nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), cross-linking tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS), fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), electron spin resonance spectroscopy (ESR), and electron microscopy. In general, biophysical constraints experimentally derived from the multiple platforms agree with the same quantities evaluated using the simulation trajectory. Notably, key structural features postulated for the recent DSH model of nascent HDL are retained during the simulation, including (1) the superhelical conformation of the antiparallel apolipoprotein A1 (apoA1) chains, (2) the lipid micellar-pseudolamellar organization, and (3) the solvent-exposed Solar Flare loops, proposed sites of interaction with LCAT (lecithin cholesteryl acyltransferase). Analysis of salt bridge persistence during simulation provides insights into structural features of apoA1 that forms the backbone of the lipoprotein. The combination of molecular dynamics simulation and experimental data from a broad range of biophysical platforms serves as a powerful approach to studying large macromolecular assemblies such as lipoproteins. This application to nascent HDL validates the DSH model proposed earlier and suggests new structural details of nascent HDL.

Fetuin-A is a Mineral Carrier Protein: Small Angle Neutron Scattering Provides New Insight on Fetuin-A Controlled Calcification Inhibition

Biophysical Journal. Dec, 2010  |  Pubmed ID: 21156141

Clinical studies and animal experiments have shown that the serum protein fetuin-A is a highly effective inhibitor of soft tissue calcification. This inhibition mechanism was elucidated on the basis of an in vitro fetuin-A-mineral model system. In a previous study, we found that in a two-stage process ∼100-nm sized calciprotein particles (CPPs) were formed whose final stage was stabilized by a compact outer fetuin-A monolayer against further growth. Quantitative small-angle neutron scattering data analysis revealed that even at a fetuin-A concentration close to the stability limit, only approximately one-half of the mineral ions and only 5% of the fetuin-A were contained in the CPPs. To uncover the interplay of the remaining supersaturated mineral ion fraction and of the 95% non-CPP fetuin-A, we explored the fetuin-A monomer fraction in solution by contrast variation small-angle neutron scattering. Our results suggest that the mineral ions coalesce to subnanometer-sized clusters, reminiscent of Posner clusters, which are stabilized by fetuin-A monomers. Hence, our experiments revealed a second mechanism of long-term mineral ion stabilization by the fetuin-A that is complementary to the formation of CPPs.

The Low Resolution Structure of ApoA1 in Spherical High Density Lipoprotein Revealed by Small Angle Neutron Scattering

The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Apr, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21292766

Spherical high density lipoprotein (sHDL), a key player in reverse cholesterol transport and the most abundant form of HDL, is associated with cardiovascular diseases. Small angle neutron scattering with contrast variation was used to determine the solution structure of protein and lipid components of reconstituted sHDL. Apolipoprotein A1, the major protein of sHDL, forms a hollow structure that cradles a central compact lipid core. Three apoA1 chains are arranged within the low resolution structure of the protein component as one of three possible global architectures: (i) a helical dimer with a hairpin (HdHp), (ii) three hairpins (3Hp), or (iii) an integrated trimer (iT) in which the three apoA1 monomers mutually associate over a portion of the sHDL surface. Cross-linking and mass spectrometry analyses help to discriminate among the three molecular models and are most consistent with the HdHp overall architecture of apoA1 within sHDL.

Strong Stabilization of Amorphous Calcium Carbonate Emulsion by Ovalbumin: Gaining Insight into the Mechanism of 'polymer-induced Liquid Precursor' Processes

Journal of the American Chemical Society. Aug, 2011  |  Pubmed ID: 21736300

The impact of the ovo proteins ovalbumin and lysozyme--present in the first stage of egg shell formation--on the homogeneous formation of the liquid amorphous calcium carbonate (LACC) precursor, was studied by a combination of complementing methods: in situ WAXS, SANS, XANES, TEM, and immunogold labeling. Lysozyme (pI = 9.3) destabilizes the LACC emulsion whereas the glycoprotein ovalbumin (pI = 4.7) extends the lifespan of the emulsified state remarkably. In the light of the presented data: (a) Ovalbumin is shown to behave commensurable to the 'polymer-induced liquid precursor' (PILP) process proposed by Gower et al. Ovalbumin can be assumed to take a key role during eggshell formation where it serves as an effective stabilization agent for transient precursors and prevents undirected mineralization of the eggshell. (b) It is further shown that the emulsified LACC carries a negative surface charge and is electrostatically stabilized. (c) We propose that the liquid amorphous calcium carbonate is affected by polymers by depletion stabilization and de-emulsification rather than 'induced' by acidic proteins and polymers during a so-called polymer-induced liquid-precursor process. The original PILP coating effect, first reported by Gower et al., appears to be a result of a de-emulsification process of a stabilized LACC phase. The behavior of the liquid amorphous carbonate phase and the polymer-induced liquid-precursor phase itself can be well described by colloid chemical terms: electrostatic and depletion stabilization and de-emulsification by depletion destabilization.

Phase Separation in Semidilute Aqueous Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) Solutions

Langmuir : the ACS Journal of Surfaces and Colloids. Jun, 2012  |  Pubmed ID: 22607150

The phase separation mechanism in semidilute aqueous poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) solutions is investigated with small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). The nature of the phase transition is probed in static SANS measurements and with time-dependent SANS measurements after a temperature jump. The observed critical exponents of the phase transition describing the temperature dependence of the Ornstein-Zernike amplitude and correlation length are smaller than values from mean-field theory. Time-dependent SANS measurements show that the specific surface decreases with increasing time after a temperature jump above the phase transition. Thus, the formation of additional hydrogen bonds in the collapsed state is a kinetic effect: A certain fraction of water remains as bound water in the system. Moreover, H-D exchange reactions observed in PNIPAM have to be taken into account.

The Low-resolution Structure of NHDL Reconstituted with DMPC with and Without Cholesterol Reveals a Mechanism for Particle Expansion

Journal of Lipid Research. Apr, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23349207

Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) with contrast variation was used to obtain the low-resolution structure of nascent HDL (nHDL) reconstituted with dimyristoyl phosphatidylcholine (DMPC) in the absence and presence of cholesterol, [apoA1:DMPC (1:80, mol:mol) and apoA1:DMPC:cholesterol (1:86:9, mol:mol:mol)]. The overall shape of both particles is discoidal with the low-resolution structure of apoA1 visualized as an open, contorted, and out of plane conformation with three arms in nascent HDL/dimyristoyl phosphatidylcholine without cholesterol (nHDL(DMPC)) and two arms in nascent HDL/dimyristoyl phosphatidylcholine with cholesterol (nHDL(DMPC+Chol)). The low-resolution shape of the lipid phase in both nHDL(DMPC) and nHDL(DMPC+Chol) were oblate ellipsoids, and fit well within their respective protein shapes. Modeling studies indicate that apoA1 is folded onto itself in nHDL(DMPC), making a large hairpin, which was also confirmed independently by both cross-linking mass spectrometry and hydrogen-deuterium exchange (HDX) mass spectrometry analyses. In nHDL(DMPC+Chol), the lipid was expanded and no hairpin was visible. Importantly, despite the overall discoidal shape of the whole particle in both nHDL(DMPC) and nHDL(DMPC+Chol), an open conformation (i.e., not a closed belt) of apoA1 is observed. Collectively, these data show that full length apoA1 retains an open architecture that is dictated by its lipid cargo. The lipid is likely predominantly organized as a bilayer with a micelle domain between the open apoA1 arms. The apoA1 configuration observed suggests a mechanism for accommodating changing lipid cargo by quantized expansion of hairpin structures.

Effects of Biological Molecules on Calcium Mineral Formation Associated with Wastewater Desalination As Assessed Using Small-angle Neutron Scattering

Langmuir : the ACS Journal of Surfaces and Colloids. Jun, 2013  |  Pubmed ID: 23701483

Calcium phosphate scale formation on reverse osmosis (RO) membranes is one of the main limitations on cost-effective desalination of domestic wastewater worldwide. It has been shown that organic agents affect mineralization. In this study, we explored mineralization in the presence of two biofilm-relevant organic compounds, the proteins bovine serum albumin (BSA) and lysozyme, in a simulated secondary effluent (SSE) solution using small-angle neutron scattering (SANS), and applied the results to analyses of mineral precipitation in RO desalination of secondary effluents of wastewater. The two proteins are prominent members of bacterial extracellular polymeric substances (EPSs), forming biofilms that are frequently associated with RO-membrane fouling during wastewater desalination. Laboratory experiments showed that both proteins in SSE solution are involved in complex mineralization processes. Only small portions of both protein fractions are involved in mineralization processes, whereas most of the protein fractions remain as monomers in solution. Contrast variation showed that composite particles of mineral and protein are formed instantaneously to a radius of gyration of about 300 Å, coexisting with particles of about μm size. After about one day, these large particles start to grow again at the expense of the 300 Å particles. The volume fraction of the 300 Å particles is of the order of 2 × 10(-4), which is too large to represent calcium phosphate such as hydroxyapatite as the only mineral present. Considering the data of mineral volume fraction obtained here as well as the solubility product of possible mineral polymorphs in the SSE solution, we suggest the formation of protein-mineral particles of hydroxyapatite and calcium carbonate during scale formation.

Surfactant or Block Copolymer Micelles? Structural Properties of a Series of Well-defined N-alkyl-PEO Micelles in Water Studied by SANS

Soft Matter. Jul, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 24916456

Here we present an extensive small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) structural characterization of micelles formed by poly(ethylene oxide)-mono-n-alkyl ethers (Cn-PEOx) in dilute aqueous solution. Chemically, Cn-PEOx can be considered as a hybrid between a low-molecular weight surfactant and an amphiphilic block copolymer. The present system, prepared through anionic polymerization techniques, is better defined than other commercially available polymers and allows a very precise and systematic testing of the theoretical predictions from thermodynamical models. The equilibrium micellar properties were elaborated by systematically varying the n-alkyl chain length (n) at constant PEO molecular weight or increasing the soluble block size (x), respectively. The structure was reminiscent of typical spherical star-like micelles i.e. a constant core density profile, ∼r(0), and a diffuse corona density profile, ∼r(-4/3). Through a careful quantitative analysis of the scattering data, it is found that the aggregation number, Nagg initially rapidly decreases with increasing PEO length until it becomes independent at higher PEO molecular weight as expected for star-like micelles. On the other hand, the dependency on the n-alkyl length is significantly stronger than that expected from the theories for star-like block copolymer micelles, Nagg ∼ n(2) similar to what is expected for surfactant micelles. Hence the observed aggregation behavior suggests that the Cn-PEOx micelles exhibit a behavior that can be considered as a hybrid between low-molecular weight surfactant micelles and diblock copolymer micelles.

Monitoring the Internal Structure of Poly(N-vinylcaprolactam) Microgels with Variable Cross-link Concentration

Langmuir : the ACS Journal of Surfaces and Colloids. Dec, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25493607

The combination of a set of complementary techniques allows us to construct an unprecedented and comprehensive picture of the internal structure, temperature dependent swelling behavior, and the dependence of these properties on the cross-linker concentration of microgel particles based on N-vinylcaprolactam (VCL). The microgels were synthesized by precipitation polymerization using different amounts of cross-linking agent. Characterization was performed by small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) using two complementary neutron instruments to cover a uniquely broad Q-range with one probe. Additionally we used dynamic light scattering (DLS), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Previously obtained nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) results on the same PVCL particles are utilized to round the picture off. Our study shows that both the particle radius and the cross-link density and therefore also the stiffness of the microgels rises with increasing cross-linker content. Hence, more cross-linker reduces the swelling capability distinctly. These findings are supported by SANS and AFM measurements. Independent DLS experiments also found the increase in particle size but suggest an unchanged cross-link density. The reason for the apparent contradiction is the indirect extraction of the parameters via a model in the evaluation of DLS measurements. The more direct approach in AFM by evaluating the cross section profiles of observed microgel particles gives evidence of significantly softer and more deformable particles at lower cross-linker concentrations and therefore verifies the change in cross-link density. DSC data indicate a minor but unexpected shift of the volume phase transition temperature (VPTT) to higher temperatures and exposes a more heterogeneous internal structure of the microgels with increasing cross-link density. Moreover, a change in the total energy transfer during the VPT gives evidence that the strength of hydrogen bonds is significantly affected by the cross-link density. A strong and reproducible deviation of the material density of the cross-linked microgel polymer chains toward a higher value compared to the respective linear chains has yet to be explained.

Synthesis and Characterization of Gelatin-Based Magnetic Hydrogels

Advanced Functional Materials. Jun, 2014  |  Pubmed ID: 25844086

A simple preparation of thermoreversible gelatin-based ferrogels in water provides a constant structure defined by the crosslinking degree for gelatin contents between 6 and 18 wt%. The possibility of varying magnetite nanoparticle concentration between 20 and 70 wt% is also reported. Simulation studies hint at the suitability of collagen to bind iron and hydroxide ions, suggesting that collagen acts as a nucleation seed to iron hydroxide aggregation, and thus the intergrowth of collagen and magnetite nanoparticles already at the precursor stage. The detailed structure of the individual ferrogel components is characterized by small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) using contrast matching. The magnetite structure characterization is supplemented by small-angle X-ray scattering and microscopy only visualizing magnetite. SANS shows an unchanged gelatin structure of average mesh size larger than the nanoparticles with respect to gel concentration while the magnetite nanoparticles size of around 10 nm seems to be limited by the gel mesh size. Swelling measurements underline that magnetite acts as additional crosslinker and therefore varying the magnetic and mechanical properties of the ferrogels. Overall, the simple and variable synthesis protocol, the cheap and easy accessibility of the components as well as the biocompatibility of the gelatin-based materials suggest them for a number of applications including actuators.

Multifunctional Layered Magnetic Composites

Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology. 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 25671158

A fabrication method of a multifunctional hybrid material is achieved by using the insoluble organic nacre matrix of the Haliotis laevigata shell infiltrated with gelatin as a confined reaction environment. Inside this organic scaffold magnetite nanoparticles (MNPs) are synthesized. The amount of MNPs can be controlled through the synthesis protocol therefore mineral loadings starting from 15 wt % up to 65 wt % can be realized. The demineralized organic nacre matrix is characterized by small-angle and very-small-angle neutron scattering (SANS and VSANS) showing an unchanged organic matrix structure after demineralization compared to the original mineralized nacre reference. Light microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy studies of stained samples show the presence of insoluble proteins at the chitin surface but not between the chitin layers. Successful and homogeneous gelatin infiltration in between the chitin layers can be shown. The hybrid material is characterized by TEM and shows a layered structure filled with MNPs with a size of around 10 nm. Magnetic analysis of the material demonstrates superparamagnetic behavior as characteristic for the particle size. Simulation studies show the potential of collagen and chitin to act as nucleators, where there is a slight preference of chitin over collagen as a nucleator for magnetite. Colloidal-probe AFM measurements demonstrate that introduction of a ferrogel into the chitin matrix leads to a certain increase in the stiffness of the composite material.

Tuning the Instrument Resolution Using Chopper and Time of Flight at the Small-angle Neutron Scattering Diffractometer KWS-2

Journal of Applied Crystallography. Dec, 2015  |  Pubmed ID: 26664343

Following demand from the user community regarding the possibility of improving the experimental resolution, the dedicated high-intensity/extended Q-range SANS diffractometer KWS-2 of the Jülich Centre for Neutron Science at the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Center in Garching was equipped with a double-disc chopper with a variable opening slit window and time-of-flight (TOF) data acquisition option. The chopper used in concert with a dedicated high-intensity velocity selector enables the tuning at will of the wavelength resolution Δλ/λ within a broad range, from 20% (standard) down to 2%, in a convenient and safe manner following pre-planned or spontaneous decisions during the experiment. The new working mode is described in detail, and its efficiency is demonstrated on several standard samples with known properties and on a completely new crystallizable copolymer system, which were investigated using both the conventional (static) and TOF modes.

Biopolymer-induced Calcium Phosphate Scaling in Membrane-based Water Treatment Systems: Langmuir Model Films Studies

Colloids and Surfaces. B, Biointerfaces. Jul, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27015648

Biofouling and scaling on reverse osmosis (RO) or nanofiltration (NF) membranes during desalination of secondary and tertiary effluents pose an obstacle that limits the reuse of wastewater. In this study we explored the mineral scaling induced by biopolymers originated from bacterial biofilms: bovine serum albumin (BSA), fibrinogen, lysozyme and alginic acid, as well as an extracts of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) from bio-fouled RO membranes from wastewater treatment facility. Mineralization studies were performed on Langmuir films of the biopolymers deposited at the interface of a solution simulating RO desalination of secondary-treated wastewater effluents. All studied biopolymers and EPS induced heterogeneous mineralization of mainly calcium phosphate. Using IR spectroscopy coupled with systematic quantitative analysis of the surface pressure versus molecular-area isotherms, we determined the mineralization tendencies of the biopolymers to be in the order of: fibrinogen>lysozyme>BSA>alginic acid. The biopolymers and EPS studied here were found to be accelerators of calcium-phosphate mineralization. This study demonstrates the utilization of Langmuir surface-pressure area isotherms and a model solution in quantitatively assessing the mineralization tendencies of various molecular components of EPS in context of membrane-based water treatment systems.

Structural Evolution of Metastable Protein Aggregates in the Presence of Trivalent Salt Studied by (V)SANS and SAXS

The Journal of Physical Chemistry. B. Jun, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27285548

We present a study of the structural evolution of protein aggregates formed in solutions of a globular protein, β-lactoglobulin (BLG), in the presence of YCl3. These aggregates are often observed before crystallization starts and they are metastable with respect to the crystalline phase. Here we focus on the characterization of the hierarchical structure of this intermediate phase and its temperature dependent structure evolution using a combination of (very) small angle neutron and X-ray scattering (VSANS, SANS, and SAXS). Results show that the hierarchical structure ranges from nanometer scale protein monomer, dimer and compact protein clusters to micrometer scale fractal protein aggregates. Upon cooling, the overall hierarchical structure is preserved, but the evolution of the internal structure within the aggregates is clearly visible: the monomer-monomer correlation peak reduces its intensity and disappears completely at lower temperatures, whereas the cluster-cluster correlation is enhanced. At a larger length scale, the fractal dimension of protein aggregates increases. The kinetics of the structure change during a temperature ramp was further investigated using time-resolved SAXS. The time dependent SAXS profiles show clear isosbestic points and the kinetics of the structural evolution can be well described using a two-state model. These dynamic properties of protein aggregates on a broad length scale may be essential for being the precursors of nucleation.

Field-induced Self-assembly of Iron Oxide Nanoparticles Investigated Using Small-angle Neutron Scattering

Nanoscale. Nov, 2016  |  Pubmed ID: 27782247

The magnetic-field-induced assembly of magnetic nanoparticles (NPs) provides a unique and flexible strategy in the design and fabrication of functional nanostructures and devices. We have investigated the field-induced self-assembly of core-shell iron oxide NPs dispersed in toluene by means of small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). The form factor of the core-shell NPs was characterized and analyzed using SANS with polarized neutrons. Large-scale aggregates of iron oxide NPs formed above 0.02 T as indicated by very-small-angle neutron scattering measurements. A three-dimensional long-range ordered superlattice of iron oxide NPs was revealed under the application of a moderate magnetic field. The crystal structure of the superlattice has been identified to be face-centred cubic.

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